Strategy continues to capture raw talent; this time, from America’s western planes. “12,000 cows, 200 horses, 1.2 million acres, all controlled via horseback as they did 200 years ago. I was in love with it,” says Mason Dahl, a seventh-generation cattleman and senior in the strategic management program at the BYU Marriott School of Business. Dahl sees himself as the future cowboy strategist of the beef industry.
Dahl grew up watching his father help manage and turn around multiple ranching businesses. “Every three years my father’s work would move us from one ranch to another. I saw my father manage cattle herds to maximize profits for ranches and increase the genetic potential to compete in the beef industry,” explains Dahl.
Growing up on ranches, Dahl always suspected he would either study animal science to become a veterinarian or go into ranch management. Dahl studied animal science for a semester at Colorado State University and then served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Romania.
After his mission, Dahl worked for an Idaho ranch during the COVID-19 pandemic, an experience that would determine his career as a future strategist. “When I went to the grocery stores, there was a shortage of beef and inflated prices,” Dahl explains. “The shortage didn’t make sense because we had the supply.” COVID-19 precautions had thrown all the beef processors into a state of disarray as certain processes in the beef supply chain were delayed or paused because of sick or quarantined workers.
During that time Dahl quickly worked to find solutions, and through the process, he realized that he could make more of an impact through ranch management. “There is a plethora of animal scientists in the beef industry who know how to raise and keep cattle healthy, but there are even more opportunities to help with the business side of ranching,” Dahl says.
Ranchers’ understanding of business affects everyone who consumes beef and the success of producers and packers overall. Seeing this opportunity for improvement within the beef industry, and in addition to running their own cattle, Dahl and his brothers started Innovative Livestock Solutions (ILS Meats).
Each day during the summer of 2020, Dahl and his brothers focused on filling the gaps in the ranchers’ newly broken supply chains within Idaho. Specifically, ILS Meats worked with packers (the businesses that slaughter and process cattle) and retailers (the businesses that sell to consumers). He came up with the motto “Ropin’ Heels and Wheelin’ Deals” to encapsulate his time caring for cattle and consulting.
Dahl continued to work for ILS Meats during his transfer to Brigham Young University in the fall of 2020. At BYU Marriott, Dahl found the strategic management program to provide him with the education to align business knowledge with his passion.
“The strategy program takes various disciplines taught here at BYU Marriott and rolls them all together. The program has everything you need to know from accounting and information systems to marketing and supply chain.” The program also offers Dahl opportunities to apply these skills to real corporate consulting projects via the Cougar Consulting Group and his capstone project.
Following graduation, Dahl plans to work for a packing plant in Eastern Idaho, where he hopes to shorten and improve beef processing chains so producers can sell more directly to consumers. “Improving the supply chain process provides a competitive advantage. The more steps you add to processing, the harder it becomes to market your beef,” Dahl explains.
The strategic management program has provided Dahl with the opportunity to excel in what he loves to do. “That’s what the strategy program is meant to help you with, solving problems you care about,” he says. Dahl plans to carry on the cowboy legacy and work to create positive change in the cattle industry.
Written by Alice Gubler